Volkhov front: the story of the 88-year-old sniper of the Soviet Army
Volkhov front: the story of the 88-year-old sniper of the Soviet Army

Journalist and writer Georgy Zotov continues a series of essays about the amazing Soviet people who defeated fascism. This time, on the pages of his personal blog on Facebook, he talked about Nikolai Morozov, a sniper who cut down the Nazis when he was 88 years old.

Sniper grandfather. The oldest participant in the Great Patriotic War was … 88 years old!

When in the spring of 1942 a new sniper was introduced to the commander of one of the battalions that held the defense of the Volkhov front sector, the major thought that he had become the victim of someone's cruel joke. Before him stood a decrepit old man with a gray beard, in civilian clothes, barely (as it seemed at the very beginning) holding a three-line rifle in his hands.

- How old are you? the commander asked in complete amazement.

- In June, eighty-eight will be fulfilled … - replied the grandfather calmly. - Do not worry, I was not called up - everything is fine in the rear. I am a volunteer. Show me a position where I can shoot. There is no need for concessions, I will fight on a general basis.

Honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, permanent (since 1918) director of the Natural Science Institute. Lesgaft Nikolai Aleksandrovich Morozov demanded that he be sent to the front on June 22, 1941 - in the very first hours, when the German attack was announced.

In 1939 he graduated from the Osoaviakhim courses and since then has constantly practiced sniper shooting. Despite the glasses, Morozov shot perfectly, which he pointed out in his frequent appeals to the military registration and enlistment office.

The academician believed that at the moment when the Fatherland is in danger and the Soviet soil is trampled by German boots, everyone must make their contribution to achieve Victory. After all, the Germans bombard the streets of Leningrad every day, he wants to answer them in kind, to get even for the killed women and children.

Terribly surprised by such pressure, the authorities ultimately could not stand it, and said that the comrade academician could go to the front sector near Leningrad and take part in hostilities. But, due to old age, only as a business trip, for one single month.

Appearing in the trenches, Morozov instantly amazed everyone - by the fact that he walked without a wand, easily (in case of shelling) ducked down and treated a rifle like an inveterate front-line soldier. The academician spent a couple of days choosing a shooting position for himself - and, finally, lay in an ambush in a trench. He lay there for two hours, in rather cool weather, until he found his target - a Nazi officer. Carefully aiming, Morozov killed the German immediately - with one shot.

This case is even more surprising in that the Soviet academician-sniper is a world-renowned scientist. Well, imagine, Albert Einstein would have taken and went to fight at the front.


The son of a Yaroslavl landowner and a peasant serf (!), A hereditary nobleman Nikolai Morozov was a rather "hot" guy from his youth. Soon after the grammar school (from where he was expelled for poor academic performance), he joined the underground organization "Narodnaya Volya": he was among those who planned the assassination of Emperor Alexander II, which took place on March 1, 1881.

He served almost 25 years in prison, was released due to the amnesty that followed the 1905 revolution. Surprisingly, it was behind bars that the "terrorist" became interested in science. Morozov independently learned 11 languages ​​(French, English, Italian, German, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Old Slavic, Ukrainian and Polish). He was engaged in physics, chemistry and astronomy, he also took a great interest in mathematics, philosophy, political economy.

In the cell, Morozov fell ill with tuberculosis and was on the verge of death - however, he survived thanks to the special gymnastics system he had invented: the disease receded.Freed from imprisonment, Morozov plunged headlong into science - suffice it to say that he published 26 (!) Scientific papers.

In 1910, the scientist flew in an airplane, pretty much frightening the authorities - the gendarmes thought: the ex-revolutionary could throw a grenade from the clouds at Tsar Nicholas II, and they searched his apartment. However, no evidence of "subversive activity" was found. Nevertheless, the future academician was arrested twice - in 1911 and 1912. In total, he spent almost 30 (!) Years in prison.

After the revolution, Morozov did not hesitate to openly criticize Lenin, claiming that he did not share the Bolshevik views on building socialism: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat must cooperate, they cannot survive without each other, industry must not be rudely taken away, but softly nationalized.

The respect for Morozov as a scientist was such that the Bolsheviks kept quiet. Indeed, in terms of the volume of research in the field of physics and chemistry in the twenties of the XX century, there were no scientific luminaries in the whole world equal to Morozov in authority and results.

Even after under Stalin in 1932 the Russian society of lovers of world studies (studying geophysics and astronomy) was closed and all the participants were repressed, the chairman of the society, Morozov, was not touched - he left for his former estate Borok, where he worked in a specially built astronomical observatory.

And now a person of this level, the luminary of world science, the author of brilliant works, the creator of a scientific center, comes as a volunteer to the front - as an ordinary soldier: to fight for the Motherland. He lives in a dugout, eats from a soldier's cauldron, endures the hardships of war without complaint - despite the fact that he is a very old man. The Red Army men are amazed - they come to see the amazing grandfather from other units, rumors about him are spreading along the entire front.

The academician is angry - now, they are making a star out of him, but he has to fight. He fought bravely. Carefully and slowly, having studied the trajectory of the bullet, especially in humid conditions (as befits a physics), Nikolai Morozov shot several more German soldiers. Completely enraged, the Nazis began to hunt for the dashing academician, subjecting the old sniper to possible shelters with frequent gunfire.

As a result, the frightened leadership, despite the protests of Morozov, brought the scientist back from the Volkhov front, urging him to focus on scientific work. The academician was rowdy for several months, demanding to send him back to fight on the front line as a simple sniper, but then cooled down.

In 1944, assessing military valor, Morozov was awarded the medal "For the Defense of Leningrad" and the Order of Lenin. In a letter to Stalin dated May 9, 1945, the scientist happily said: "I am happy that I lived to see Victory Day over German fascism, which brought so much grief to our Motherland and all cultured humanity."

On June 10, 1945, Nikolai Aleksandrovich Morozov was awarded another Order of Lenin. He expressed regret - alas, he managed to do so little on the front line for Victory. The scientist died at the age of 92, on July 30, 1946.

In our memory, he will remain the oldest participant in the Great Patriotic War - not subject to conscription, but desperately rushing to the front and achieving his goal, at least for a month. Now it's hard to believe that people like Morozov could exist at all. But, nevertheless, they were the living reality of that war.

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